In terms of volume and usage, Snapchat is a monster. It already accounts for more total daily photo upload volume than Instagram and Flickr, combined. And just as many daily photo uploads as Facebook: 350 million. That’s despite only really getting off the ground in the past year or so.
Snapchat’s sceptics claim brands will not be interested in a peer-to-peer network in which users send disappearing photos to friends. But many fail to see the innovation represented by Snapchat’s new feature, “Stories,” which allows brands to weave together photos and video into an appealing long-form package that doesn’t instantly disappear, and can be viewed and re-viewed for a 24-hour time window. Taco Bell used it for its “#friendsgiving” social media campaign the weekend of Nov. 15.
Let’s not forget Snapchat’s youthful and obsessed user base. Those who dismiss Snapchat’s recent sky-high valuations risk underestimating its potential.
In a recent report from BI Intelligence we look at Snapchat in the context of other mobile photo- and video-sharing services, part of our ongoing coverage of emerging social media. To get a sense of how Snapchat and other newer services might develop, we also study how Instagram has fared since it was acquired, compare a few photo-based app rising stars, and look at how camera and photo-sharing apps are monetizing.
In terms of Snapchat monetization, here’s a look at the network’s advantages and how things could shape up:
- Snapchat has an ultra-youthful user base. In one survey, three times as many teens aged 13 to 18 reported using Snapchat as 19- to 25-year-olds did. The teen demographic is extremely difficult to reach.
- Snapchat has grown fast. Earlier this year, the company revealed that its users are sending 350 million photos daily, as many as are being uploaded on Facebook.
- Brands may one day pay to send snaps or advertise to acquire followers on Snapchat, because the peer-to-peer nature of messages actually make it a compelling and unique communication channel. Advertisers will know that their Snapchat followers receive messages.
- Some brands, such as 16 Handles, a frozen-yogurt restaurant chain, and Taco Bell, have already experimented with Snapchat as a one-to-many “private” messaging service. These early tests are good for PR purposes — there’s always some value in being a trailblazer — but broader results are not in yet.
- Subscriptions could work for Snapchat if the ad model doesn’t pan out, or to generate revenue from an ad-free version. Messaging platform WhatsApp has had success with a subscription model.
- Analyses data to see how Instagram has fared since they were acquired
- Studies Snapchat and a few other rising competitors
- Looks at how mobile start-ups and established Web-centric businesses are monetizing camera and photo-sharing apps
- Examines opportunities for brands to use these engaging networks